We check the weather before making spaghetti for dinner…

Tornado2 copy

The only tornado we’ve seen (Round Rock, TX). Can’t remember what we had for dinner…

Three times now (at least) we’ve been forced into an inner, lower-level, windowless room as tornado sirens whined outside. We were eating spaghetti every time. That’s the way severe weather worked in Ohio anyway. We haven’t experienced tornado warnings since moving to South Carolina, but we’re kinda curious to know if God will arrange things the way He did before.

The way boys learn…

Zeke, our eight year-old, got a pocket knife and a whittling book for Christmas. After a few minutes of instruction–how to open and close the knife, cutting away from the body (and siblings)–he promptly took the knife, went outside, and got to work. The result…

IMG_0091He’s undeterred…and we trust he will begin whittling sticks instead of his fingers any day now.

Wifely Wednesday: Remembering the Purpose of Christ's Birth…

photoAll of our children have names taken from Bible characters. It is our family tradition on birthdays to read the Scripture passage from which we chose the birthday child’s name. One unexpected blessing in this is that we have a birthday during the Christmas season, and the passage we read is from Christ’s resurrection. I love the reminder during Advent that Christ did not come to stay a little baby, but to grow up, live a perfect life, and die for us.

John 20:1   Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2 So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. 6 And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

11   But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 12 and she *saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and *saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). 17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

Wifely Wednesday: To Santa or Not To Santa?

A few days ago a young college friend of mine (who is full of great questions and posessing a very teachable heart) sent me the following question on Facebook: “What do you and Andrew do about Santa and the Tooth Fairy?” It was a fun question to answer, and I thought I’d share my slightly edited answer here.

Hi, Gurtrude! (Ok, so that’s totally not her name, but as long as I’m making up a name for her I thought I’d make it an interesting one.) That’s a fun question. The Tooth Fairy we definitely do, but the kids know right away that it’s us and we are just pretending something fun. With a big house full of kids, it’s important to find every possible time to celebrate the children as individuals, and losing a tooth is a great time to make one kid feel special. But, as I said, they know it’s their mom, and that’s just part of the fun. I will add that we only give them a dollar, so they aren’t exactly getting rich off of us.

Santa is another issue, though, because that coincides with the incarnation of our Savior. Our thought is, why on earth would we want to add something fake to a holiday that is already so amazing and TRUE? As I said to the kids just yesterday when they asked why we didn’t do Santa, “It would be like choosing to eat an old hot dog from the floor when someone is offering you a gourmet meal.” In other words, Christmas is so wonderful and so absolutely true that it doesn’t need anything extra. Scripture calls it “the fullness of time,” after all. At best including Santa can confuse a vitally important moment in redemption history, and at worst it could take glory away from our Savior and give it to a fairy tale.

We do have a family tradition that is similar to Santa, but happens earlier in December and is rooted in Church history as well as my Dutch heritage. On December 5 we put out our wooden shoes and on December 6 they are filled with candy and a simple gift from St. Nicholas on St. Nicholas’ Day. As with the Tooth Fairy, the kids know it’s their parents, but it’s still a lot of fun to pretend. We don’t have a problem with this little celebration because it’s not confused with any Biblical observance. And the real St. Nicholas (from whom the Santa figure evolved) was a very interesting and godly character from early Church history. From what we know of him, he was persecuted for his faith and did much good to help the poor. So on top of a little fun celebration we get to give them a dose of education, too.

Whew! That was a long answer to your question. Probably more than you wanted. These are not issues that we would necessarily condemn other parents for making different decisions about, if they made those decisions prayerfully and wisely. However this is what we have come up with for our family, and by God’s grace we hope it is honoring to Him.

Keep those good questions coming!


Wifely Wednesday: Thanksgiving

DSC_0003Today when Andrew came home from work, he immediately settled down to the business at hand: annoying his children. Now just wait! Before you judge him for being one of those wicked fathers who exasperates his children, or chastise me for disrespecting my husband on a public blog, read on. You see, if Andrew did the sorts of things to me that he was doing to the children, I would be GREATLY annoyed. I do not enjoy tickling. Hate it, in fact. Andrew, however, seems to have a pathological need to tickle somebody every day. And before we had children, I was, unfortunately, his only prey. Andrew’s children, on the other hand, love nothing better than having their father annoy, er, I mean tickle them until they have tears streaming down their faces and they about wet their pants.

So here is my simple thanksgiving for the day. I am thankful that my children take my place during the daily rough house routine. I am thankful that the boys love to watch Detroit Tigers games with Andrew so that I don’t have to feign interest. I am thankful that Zeke drinks coffee with Andrew, because I think it’s gross and Andrew loves to have a coffee buddy. I am thankful that Anna likes to scratch backs for hours on end, because Andrew loves to have his back scratched for hours on end.

And I’m sure if Andrew were writing this post, he would probably say something like, “My wife is sitting happily in the den playing board games with her children. I would rather get a root canal than play a board game, but my wife loves them. I have sorely neglected her desire in this area for the better part of our marriage, so I am thankful that her children fill this need of hers. They love to sit and throw dice while they move little pieces around colored squares. That’s weird, but I’m just glad somebody else in the house will play with poor, neglected Sarah!”

Well, ok, maybe he wouldn’t word it quite like that, but you get the point! One of those funny little blessings of large families is that, eventually, somebody in the house is interested in what you are interested in. And that’s just something to be thankful for.

You are worthy of praise!

IMG_0072Our daughter Anna (tallest in the picture) was given an assignment this morning from her mother: “Go outside and write a psalm to your Creator.” She climbed up onto her favorite branch in her favorite tree and wrote this…

Oh, Lord, was I there when You created the earth, or set the stars in the sky?

Was I there when You anchored the sea to the ground or thought the birds to fly?

No, Lord, because only You are omnipresent.

You are worthy of praise! You change the full moon to crescent!

You are worthy of praise! You gave us our eternal present!

You are worthy of praise! You take pleasure away or make the world pleasant!

Oh, Lord, You alone are worthy of praise!

Wifely Wednesday: Pinteresting…Very, Very Pinteresting…

I used to be a Pinterest hater. In fact, I even looked down my lofty nose at all my friends who used Pinterest. Giant waste of time, I thought. So worldly, I sniffed. Well…guess what? I am now an converted user of Pinterest. It has been a great way for me to find homeschool ideas, recipes, craft plans, exercise routines, etc. My children have particularly benefited, since I now have the plans on hand to do any number of fun things with them that I might otherwise have never thought of.

To be sure, Pinterest has its faults. So I’ll get a few of those out of the way right now:

1) It inflates our already narcissistic natures. What is up with our national obsession in documenting every intimate detail of our life with posed photography?
2) It increases covetousness. After you look at 75 pictures of beautiful bookshelves, your own milk crate storage system seem a little, well, bland.
3) It can suck up a lot of time in a hurry. One of my favorite memes says something like, “Honey, please order a pizza for dinner tonight because I was too busy pinning nutritious recipes.”
4) If one doesn’t search wisely, one can see all sorts of immodest, immoral, and ungodly filth on Pinterest. No big surprise there!

Now, on to my point here. I always wonder how many of the things people pin they actually try. And of those things that they try, how many actually work? I have made it my goal to only pin things that I might realistically do. In other words, I have to have the time, finances, and practical interest in them. This way I avoid wasting time daydreaming about unattainable goals and I don’t make provision for discontent. So I’m not pinning pictures of million dollar homes, and I’m not pinning pictures of elaborate crafts that I don’t have the skills for.

I thought I’d share some pins that have been hits at the Dionne house and one that was a big loser. It’s hard to remember the losers, because I take them off my boards right away so that other people don’t repin them and have the same sad fate. But I really want to know what YOU are actually trying out on your own boards. What worked? What didn’t? Leave a comment and let me know!

Here is my short list of greatest hits (and greatest loser):

Carmelitas. Oh, so very good.

Cool 3D hand drawing. The kids and I had a blast doing this!

Embroidery tutorials. This has renewed my love for the craft and given me the tools to start teaching my daughters.

Shouting German. This just makes me laugh every time I read it. Na klar! To find this funny you probably have to have known my college German professor who stood only 5 feet tall but scared the pants off us when she shouted at us in German.

Science Experiments. These are simple enough that the older kids can do them on their own on those days when they want to be busy and I don’t have time to help.

Card holder for tiny hands. Pure genius! This has revolutionized game night for us.

Kid-tested jokes. We still giggle over these at lunch time. I won’t tell you which one makes us laugh the hardest.

Pepperoni bread. Perfect for taking to our church’s home fellowship groups on Sunday nights.

iPhone carrying case. I made a bunch of these for Christmas gifts, and they were so cute!

A quick guide to Southern grammar. Just the visual needed to explain this complicated concept.

Now the biggest loser!

Chicken pot pie muffins. These were so gross that my family named them “Barf Muffins.” I was unanimously asked to never make them again. Ever.

~Sarah Dionne

Wifely Wednesday: On the Subject of Work

I hope that all of you who are mothers had a joyful Mother’s Day this past Sunday. And if you didn’t and are disgruntled about it, I encourage you to read what Nancy Wilson wisely has to say about our expectations for such occasions.

When one of my children commented recently on the amount of work I try to accomplish on most days, the Lord put this reply into my mouth, “But son, I wouldn’t have so much work to do if I weren’t so blessed.” He stopped to think about that for a moment and then his eyes brightened as he said, “You are right! God has given you so many blessings that you have lots and lots of work to do!” And with that he was off joyfully counting all the ways God had blessed us as a family, and increased our work load as a result: family, church, school, outreach…

Fruitfulness is good. Fruitfulness brings lots of work. Work is good. Work brings lots of fruit. It’s a lovely circle of blessing and purpose which gives us a tangible and obvious way to glorify God with our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our energy, our talents, our money, our homes, our time, and on and on. Work is not a curse; God gave Adam work to do before sin entered the garden. Work is good. It brings fruit. Fruit is good. It brings work.

So as you give yourselves to your labors today, remember that somewhere is a woman who has no work to do and would give anything to have your blessings.

~Sarah Dionne